The Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday ruled the 32 seats reserved for candidates with Chandigarh background by the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, in the admission to MD/MS courses are to be “filled through merit position obtained by candidates in NEET examination” and not on the basis of domicile.
While 32 seats will continue to remain reserved for those candidates who have passed their MBBS from the institute, the remaining 96 seats will have to be now filed on the basis of merit obtained at all India level in the NEET examination.
The GMCH-32 in the evening announced that the counselling scheduled for Wednesday is postponed till further orders. The list of the provisionally selected candidates had already been declared by the institute earlier this month but on April 12 the court had ordered that the admissions would be subject to the outcome of the litigation.
A division bench of the High Court Tuesday quashed the decision of the GMCH-32 to keep the 32 postgraduate seats out of the 64 seats of state quota reserved for candidates with Chandigarh background and declared it to be “invalid and unsustainable in law”. Prior to Tuesday’s judgment, the 64 seats reserved under state quota were equally divided — 32 were reserved under institutional preference pool for its own MBBS students and the rest 32 for those with Chandigarh background. There are a total of 128 postgraduate seats at the institute.
However, the court held, “In the matters of admission to post-graduate courses such a reservation/preference which has its foundations in a long discarded principle, i.e domicile, would be unsustainable. Besides, all the clauses that have been introduced in the brochure and discussed to describe a candidate with background of Chandigarh would be unsustainable in law as they have no rationale to the objects sought to be achieved even if we have to assume that such a preference was permissible in law.”
Those who benefited under the UT Chandigarh pool or under the category meant for those with Chandigarh background included the candidates who had studied for a period of five years in Chandigarh at any time prior to submission of the application for admission, whose parents had resided in Chandigarh for five years either in pursuit of a profession or holding of a job and those whose parents had held or hold any immovable property in Chandigarh for a period of five years.
The reservation for the candidates with Chandigarh background was challenged last month on the grounds that it is in direct conflict with the law laid down by the Supreme Court in various decisions. Last year, a division bench of the High Court had quashed the GMCH-32 decision to keep the UT pool seats of postgraduate degree courses reserved only for its own MBBS students. In view of the judgment, the GMCH-32 had decided to keep only 32 seats reserved for its own students and keep the rest 32 for students with Chandigarh background. The other 64 seats were kept for all India quota.
The division bench of Justices Mahesh Grover and Lalit Batra in the verdict said in case the preference is given to students who have studied for five years in Chandigarh, it would only mean an increase in the seats under institutional preference.
“Since there is only one college in Chandigarh, the benefit flowing from such a clause would merge with that of the institutional preference, thereby upsetting the balance provided by a 50% cap intended for institutional preference,” said the bench, adding that a candidate could have studied at any time for five years in Chandigarh. “This would hardly provide any rationale to the logic of claiming a seat for a post-graduate course under the UT Chandigarh pool.”
On the clause providing for preference to students whose parents have lived in Chandigarh for at least five years, the bench said a person may have settled down in Chandigarh briefly for a period of five years and then left the city. “The absurdity of this stands out if we visualise a situation of a person having come to Chandigarh possibly at the time when it was coming up in the 1950s and departed after spending 5 years only to return after a lapse of more than 60 years and claim a preference since he had spent 5 years in Chandigarh at some time and fulfils the condition of being a resident of this town ‘at any time prior to the last date of submission of the application’,” the judgment reads.
The bench on the clause of holding or having held property for five years said it was absurd as even if the person has given up the property now, they would still be fulfilling the clause providing for preference in the admission.
The division bench added, “None of these contingencies to our minds have any sustainable rationale as they even take into fold those persons who have had a brief flirtation with the city of Chandigarh either in education of their ward, in residence or through property which at best be termed to be a romantic liaison with the city but it cannot form a valid consideration for a preference while assessing merit to a Post Graduate course.”